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'The Thing' could push Pedro Alvarez to the bench
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

"The Thing" has a hold on Pirates third baseman Pedro Alvarez - and it could cost him his starting job.

"The Thing" in baseball parlance is an inexplicable inability to throw accurately to the point it becomes a mental block. Alvarez has 23 errors this season, more than any player in any position in the major leagues, and 21 have come on throws. He has hidden when the media has come around to ask him about it, according to the Beaver County Times.

Alvarez has apparently allowed the problem to affect his hitting. He has not had a multi-hit game since July 10 and has just five hits in his last 25 at-bats. He has not scored or driven in a run in the last six games as his stat line has been weakened to .238/.326/.407. Despite cutting down a bit on his strikeouts this season, his production has suffered, though he has still managed 15 home runs and 47 RBI.

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1406647796
Erick Aybar nothing but a singles hitter in July
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

An inability to hit anything but singles has limited the production of Angels second baseman Erick Aybar recently.

Aybar has hit safely in 17 of his last 21 games, but 19 of his 22 hits during that stretch have been singles. He has no triples or home runs in that period. He has just five runs scored and six RBI since July 6. Aybar owns a decent .281/.317/.403 stat line on the season. His slugging percentage has fallen 30 points in July, but he has been productive overall in 2014 with 50 runs scored and 51 RBI.

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1406646435
Kurt Suzuki backed by teammates
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

Twins surprisingly productive catcher Kurt Suzuki has received interest from several teams in need of players at that position, but closer Glen Perkins is hoping he stays put and is offered a contract extension.

"That would be ideal," he told the St. Paul Pioneer Press. "I think everyone else would agree. Not even just pitchers. He's fit in the clubhouse great, too, with everybody."

General manager Terry Ryan expressed satisfaction with Suzuki despite admitting he rates poorly in regard to pitch-framing.

Toronto, San Francisco and Baltimore are believed to be most interested. All three had scouts at Twins games over the weekend.

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1406646398
Jordy Mercer emerging as option to bat second vs. LHPs
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

Pirates shortstop Jordy Mercer was slotted second in the batting order Monday against the Giants for the third time this season and second time in three games.

Mercer has become an option to hit second when a left-handed starter is on the hill, as was the case Monday with Giants hurler Madison Bumgarner.

"I think he gives us, against left-handed pitching, probably the best dynamic in that spot right now," manager Clint Hurdle said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "From last season into this season, he’s been one of our better hitters against left-handed pitching. He’s a guy we’ve used to play some small ball with, a guy who’s shown an ability to barrel the ball. He’s leading the team in RBIs against left-handed pitching in probably less at-bats than the other guys had."

Mercer is batting .319 with a .351 on-base percentage, .458 slugging percentage and .809 OPS in 40 games against lefties this season.

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1406646008
'Still a good chance' Joaquin Benoit gets dealt
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

A major-league source told MLBDailyDish.com that there is "still a good chance" the Padres trade reliever Joaquin Benoit, who has taken over the closer's role since San Diego traded Huston Street to the Angels. The Pirates and Indians could be two teams still interested in acquiring the veteran reliever.

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1406645410
Adam Eaton on a roll for White Sox
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

White Sox leadoff hitter Adam Eaton has remained steady and productive since a mini-slump in late June and early July.

Eaton has hit safely in 13 of his last 14 games with 22 hits in 58 at-bats during that stretch. He has scored six runs in the last eight games and has sweetened his stat line to .285/.355/.383. The lone mild disappointment has been his 10 stolen bases in 16 attempts.

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1406645279
Report: Brewers among teams interested in Jon Lester
by Michael Hurcomb | CBSSports.com

The Brewers are among several teams trying to trade for Red Sox starting pitcher Jon Lester, according to CBSSports.com Baseball Insider Jon Heyman. The Dodgers, Mariners, Pirates and Orioles are among other teams reported to have inquired about Lester.

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1406644922
Seth Smith continues to rake against righties
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

Padres left fielder Seth Smith continues to give his team what it expects - a strong bat against right-handers and a fixture on the bench against lefties.

Smith is arguably enjoying his finest season for the offensively challenged Padres with a stat line of .295/.392/.510. He is coming off a 12-for-21 stretch in which he scored five runs and drove in four. He has 11 homers and 44 walks, but just 30 at-bats against left-handers this season with seven hits.

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1406644137
Chris Archer earns praise for standing up to David Ortiz
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

Rays starter Chris Archer has earned the respect of his teammates for his reaction to the showmanship of Red Sox slugger David Ortiz in flipping his bat and taking his time rounding the bases after blasting a home run against the right-hander.

Archer claimed Ortiz feels he's bigger than the game. Ortiz said Archer had no business reacting that way as a player with "two days" in the game. Archer countered by noting that classy Hank Aaron never flipped his bat.

"My initial thought was you're never too youthful to tell the truth and say things how you see them," Archer told the Tampa Tribune.

Archer standing up to Ortiz prompted praise from David Price, who has his own feud going with the Red Sox stud.

"Not only did he earn respect here, but in all of baseball," Price said about Archer. "He said what he needed to say. He said it well. I wish I would've said it as well."

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1406643461
Report: Royals interested in adding Andrew Miller
by Marty Gitlin | CBSSports.com

The Royals are seeking to bolster one of the premier bullpens in the bigs by adding Red Sox fireballing southpaw Andrew Miller, WEEI.com has claimed.

Miller is reportedly on the trading block. The failed starter has thrived as a short reliever in recent years. He has been most dominant this season with 25 hits allowed in 40 1/3 innings, 13 walks and 65 strikeouts. He has only allowed two home runs, which bodes well for spacious Kauffman Stadium.

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